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Retirement Living In San Luis Obispo - California

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Area Description

Simply called "SLO" or "San Luis" by locals, the city is the cultural, commercial and entertainment hub of California’s scenic Central Coast. It's anchored by one of California's historic missions, Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, one of the best-preserved examples of 18th century Spanish architecture. SLO has long been recognized as one of the best stops of the “one-tank trips” between Los Angeles (200 miles south) and San Francisco (230 miles north).
Though the census currently reports roughly 46,000 residents, this two-college town has a much larger, more substantive feel.

In 2011, National Geographic named San Luis Obispo is happiest city in America. Soon after the Oprah Winfrey Show aired a segment highlighting San Luis Obispo and the city's new title. It didn't take long for the locals and tourists to start referring to the city as 'Happy Town' instead of SLO.

Rolling hillsides, breathtaking ocean views and spectacular beaches are all part of the scenic landscape making up the most diverse region in the state.

Home to California Polytechnic State University, known locally as Cal Poly, and Cuesta College, the city enjoys a youthful vigor and intellectually fertile climate thanks to their presence. Students and permanent residents alike enjoy the combination of high-end styles and intimate boutiques. San Luis Obispo is a vibrant city with a relaxed style.

Endless acres of picturesque vineyards located only minutes from downtown support a thriving wine industry. Natives celebrate seasonal harvests with world-class wines and innovative, cosmopolitan-inspired cuisine.

SLO's weekly Farmers' Market is among the area's most popular events. It occurs on Higuera and adjoining streets downtown. Sample a bevy of unforgettable flavors, visit local shops that stay open later, and enjoy live entertainment as the sun goes down. This event is how the locals kick off each weekend of the year (except Thanksgiving.)

Just south of the city, people can spend an afternoon wine tasting at several wineries within a very short drive of each other. They can also stay in SLO and enjoy the entire Central Coast Wine Region, which extends north beyond Paso Robles (30 miles north) and south to Santa Ynez (70 miles south). So sip a little, or a lot, but be sure to stop and enjoy the fruits of our county.

Region Characteristics

Area Amenities

Things to Do, Recreation & Fitness

   San Luis Obispo is the ideal place to adventure. Locals and visitors alike live for the outdoors in this Central Coast destination. Between the local beaches and surf, hillside hiking trails and shaded banks of the downtown creek you will find adventures around all corners.

Named one of the nation’s Best Adventure Towns by National Geographic Travel, San Luis Obispo has “30 miles of trails crammed inside city limits and the natural wonders that push beyond them: The city is ringed by a chain of trail-scratched Morros, long dormant volcanoes that extend to the rolling Santa Lucia Range and the Pacific coast.”

There are so many things to do in San Luis Obispo and throughout the Central Coast that you will never be bored.

Cultural Activities

In San Luis Obispo, the small-town charm and emphasis on the outdoors doesn't mean you won’t also find cultural attractions worthy of a big city.

The city’s rich heritage, along with the presence of a university and a population with a sophisticated interest in the arts, make San Luis Obispo an ideal place to immerse yourself in arts, theater, music and history.

You can take in a concert in a park, among vineyards or in a world-class concert hall. You can tour dozens of art galleries on a downtown walking tour. You can attend festivals in honor of Mozart, Shakespeare, film or sidewalk chalk art.

The plaza of Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, the Spanish mission in the center of town that is itself a cultural destination, is host to performances and events throughout the year, including the Concerts in the Plaza Fridays during summer. And on the edge of the plaza by San Luis Creek sits the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, featuring an array of exhibits, classes, lectures and events.

On the first Friday of each month, the arts take over downtown San Luis Obispo for Art After Dark part of the San Luis Obispo County Arts Obispo's programs. From 6-9 p.m., more than a dozen galleries, studios and cafes open their doors for receptions, debuts, mixing and mingling. It’s a great introduction to the many art spaces you can find downtown every day.

In March, independent filmmakers and film lovers flock to town for the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival, which also draws celebrities including Morgan Freeman, Peter Fonda and SLO County natives Zac Efron and Josh Brolin.

Summer brings the renowned Festival Mozaic, presenting a unique and provocative mix of music and venues. Formerly the Mozart Festival, it was renamed to reflect the ever-expanding range of programming inspired by the classical master. For traditionalists, there are orchestra performances, chamber concerts and receptions; for others, there’s jazz, contemporary and world music, “music tasting menus” paired with wine and food, Viennese biergarten-style events, Music at the Movies showings and other innovative presentations. There’s also a Winter Mezzo with additional performances.

In October, the doors open countywide for the annual Open Studios Tour, coordinated by Arts Obispo. The area’s largest visual arts event, the Open Studios Tour provides a program and map to more than 250 studios throughout the county where you can meet the artists and possibly even see them at work.

San Luis Obispo is also home to its own symphony, celebrating its 53rd season and its 30th with Maestro Michael Nowak. The San Luis Obispo Symphony showcases chamber music in intimate settings, the annual Pops by the Sea and, of course, orchestral performances in the concert hall at the Performing Arts Center at Cal Poly State University campus.

The PAC, as it’s called by locals, is a state-of-the-art performance center that attracts performers from across the country and the globe. The PAC also has an attraction of its own in the soaring 20-ton pipe organ, whose grand scale is usually seen in cathedrals and concerts halls of major cities. At the PAC, you will find concerts both classical and modern, musicals, ballet and dance recitals, comedians, children’s shows and more.

Located in Arroyo Grande, in southern San Luis Obispo County, the Clark Center for the Performing Arts presents many premier world-class acts in an intimate setting. The state-of-the-art center consists of two theaters that regularly host internationally acclaimed acts as well as community productions.

Hands-on activity can be found year-round at the new San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum, with more than 40 indoor and outdoor activities that will stimulate curiosity and discovery in kids young and old.

And if it’s San Luis Obispo itself you are curious about, head over to the San Luis Obispo County Museum of History, housed in what was once a Carnegie Library building. There you’ll find historical photos, documents and artifacts that shed a new perspective on the city you find today.

You can even see how people here used to the live at the furnished Dallidet Adobe, also operated by the San Luis Obispo Historical Society. Surrounded by roses and redwoods in the Mediterranean gardens, it also is considered one of the most romantic locations in the city.

Whatever your cultural interests, you are sure to find something that pleases the artistic senses in San Luis Obispo.

Public transportation

San Luis Obispo is accessible by car, air, bus and train.

By Car
San Luis Obispo is about 200 miles north of Los Angeles and 220 miles south of San Francisco on U.S. Highway 101. The most direct route from either city is U.S. 101; it’s a drive of about four hours either way. From San Francisco you can also drive to SLO on spectacularly scenic Highway 1, although the road is slow and winding and subject to closure in bad weather. That takes about six hours. From the east (including Fresno and Bakersfield), take Highway 46 west to Paso Robles, then head south on U.S. 101.

By Air
San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport (SBP) is served by United Express and US Airways. Passengers can fly non-stop from and to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Phoenix. The airport is five miles south of downtown on Highway 227.

By Train
Amtrak serves San Luis Obispo several times a day via the Coast Starlight from Seattle and the Pacific Surfliner from San Diego. Buses meet many trains. The Amtrak depot is at 1011 Railroad Avenue.

By Bus
Greyhound and many tour and charter companies serve San Luis Obispo. The Greyhound terminal is at 1460 Calle Joaquin.

Medical Facilities

San Luis Obispo is a nationally recognized hub of health care excellence, serving all of the Central Coast with superior regional medical facilities and well trained providers of all types.

The city is home to two major private hospitals, plus urgent care facilities, health maintenance and community health care centers, as well as assisted living communities. In San Luis Obispo, it’s clear that medicine means business.

the two major hospitals are French Hospital Medical Center and Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center.

Recently named a Blue Distinction Center for Cardiac Care by Blue Shield of California, French Hospital Medical Center is a 112-bed provider of acute care that offers a wide range of medical and surgical services, including ambulatory services and 24-hour emergency care and renowned cardiac services.

The only hospital between Santa Barbara and Monterey to achieve Joint Commission Stroke Center accreditation, Sierra Vista is a 164-bed, acute-care provider of tertiary services that has been serving the Central Coast of California for the past 50 years. Today it houses the County’s only neurosurgery program, high risk pregnancy program, has the County’s only dedicated Pediatric Unit as well as the only Neonatal Intensive Care Unit between Santa Barbara and Salinas.

What Will The Climate And Weather Be Like If I Retire In San Luis Obispo, California?

San Luis Obispo County has one of world's most comfortable climates.

The summers here are delightfully mild, with daytime highs usually in the low 80s, and cool evenings. Winters are even better with daytime highs in the 60s and 70s, and crisp, clear nights. Frost is rare, snow almost unheard of. (A dusting of snow has twice made the front page of the local paper.)

Air conditioners aren't needed in most homes because of the cooling sea breezes. And while we do have heat in our homes, we don’t need to use it much.

Outdoor dining, either at home or at a fabulous San Luis Obispo restaurant, is a year-round pleasure. The climate contributes to a relaxed, casual lifestyle that’s difficult to recreate anywhere else.

Monthly Temperature Ranges

 Month  Low  Avg  High
 Jan  43  53  62
 Feb  44  54  63
 Mar  46  55  64
 Apr  47  57  67
 May  49  59  69
 Jun  52  62  72
 Jul  54  64  74
 Aug  55  65  75
 Sep  54  65  75
 Oct  51  62  73
 Nov  47  57  68
 Dec  42  52  62

Monthly Average # of Hot and Cold Days

 Month  Days Greater Than 90 F°  Days Less Than 32 F°  Days Less Than 0 F°
 Jan  0  1  0
 Feb  0  1  0
 Mar  0  0  0
 Apr  0  0  0
 May  1  0  0
 Jun  1  0  0
 Jul  1  0  0
 Aug  1  0  0
 Sep  2  0  0
 Oct  2  0  0
 Nov  0  0  0
 Dec  0  2  0

Rain & Humidity

 Month  Rainfall  Rainy Days  Humidity
 Jan  4 "  8  40 %
 Feb  4 "  9  42 %
 Mar  4 "  8  44 %
 Apr  1 "  5  44 %
 May  0 "  2  47 %
 Jun  0 "  1  50 %
 Jul  0 "  0  52 %
 Aug  0 "  0  52 %
 Sep  0 "  1  50 %
 Oct  1 "  3  47 %
 Nov  2 "  5  43 %
 Dec  4 "  7  39 %


 Month  Snowfall  Snow On Ground Days  Snowy Days
 Jan  0 "  0  0
 Feb  0 "  0  0
 Mar  0 "  0  0
 Apr  0 "  0  0
 May  0 "  0  0
 Jun  0 "  0  0
 Jul  0 "  0  0
 Aug  0 "  0  0
 Sep  0 "  0  0
 Oct  0 "  0  0
 Nov  0 "  0  0
 Dec  0 "  0  0

Natural Disaster Areas

Cost of Living for San Luis Obispo, CA

San Luis Obispo, California cost of living for Housing, Healthcare, Transportation, Taxes, Utilities, etc.:

Cost of Living




Political Party


Senior Housing Options

Senior Assistance in San Luis Obispo, CA

San Luis Obispo, California offers the following assistance for seniors:

What Job or Volunteer Opportunities Does San Luis Obispo Offer For Retirees?

With over 1,000 different non-profits in the region, San Luis Obispo offers its residents so many opportunities to connect to the community.

In many ways, SLO is defined by its active volunteerism culture. The non-profit sector contributes close to $250 million towards the local economic health, at last count.

Additional Information

Visitor Information

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